Sunday 28 October 2007

A productive week and magazine interview

Tim had the first 3 days of the week off from the cafe and he got the veg area fenced, so we can now run sheep in this small paddock. He also decided to dig a new ditch adjacent to the veg garden paddock, where the well for the spring is, which is now defunct. Anyway, Tim started to dig the ditch, and yes you guessed it, the tractor sunk!!! Not as deep as on the common land, but deep enough to be pulled out by another tractor driven by our neighbour Colin. It has been suggested that Tim puts some old railway sleepers down and reverse the tractor over them. We wait and see if this works.
On Wednesday afternoon we were interviewed by Vicki from the Farmers Mart mag, thankfully the weather was fine so Vicki was able to take lots of photos of the sheep and alpacas. We've yet to get the proofs to read through, but it should be arriving next week. Will let you know when the article is going to be published.
As we have finally chopped all the wood stored in the barn, Tim took the tractor and trailer to the Land O Nod Farm to collect some nicely seasoned wood. Two trailer loads, (approx 4 tonnes) are now stacked relatively neatly in the barn waiting for us to cut into logs for the resident vandal's partner to split in a months time.
We had a surprise visit from some friends Sandie and John, they were delivering some of their Ryeland lambs to their new owners in Castleton. Sandie and John have not been to our smallholding for a couple of years, though we have met up on several occasions at sheep and smallholder events. So they seen a great deal of change from the last time they visited. It was good to chat, as the saying goes. Sandie is a champion breeder of Ryelands, winning best in breed at the Great Yorkshire Show with one of her own bred ram lambs, so it was interesting to hear what she thinks of our sheep. Been a hand spinner she really appreciated the fleece on the Shetlands and Corridale fat lambs, confirming that next year we will not be castrating any of our ram lambs so they can be sold, if required, for breeding.
Next weekend we have the Hedge laying Hollands and Stonewalling Marshalls here for a day of hedge laying. We will also be putting the rams in with the ewes, so we will be inoculating all the sheep, checking feet and ensuring that they are all in tip top condition. So hopefully the weather will remain mild and dry.
As always more next week.....

Sunday 21 October 2007

Weekend of Hobbits - aka The Nephews

The nephews arrived on Friday night, travelling here with Denise on the train. On Saturday they decided that they didn't want to walk the dogs, preferring to feed the animals. After we had walked to all the different paddocks feeding the sheep and alpacas, they decided that maybe walking the dogs would have been a shorter walk.!!!!!! The rest of the day was spent "chilling out" but they did summon up enough energy to go into Whitby and demolish fish and chips for their tea. Sunday we went to pick up our remaining Wiltshire Horn Ewe from Sue and Kevin, we also decided to take the ewe that had been badly caught with fly strike when we had picked up the previous ewes, as she has recovered really well. We all had a good look round at the other animals on Sue and Kevin's farm (horses, goats, kune kune pigs and Dexter cows), despite the mist. We arrived back safely and the 2 new girls are settling in nicely. The nephews went home this afternoon and as I write this blog I think I've gone deaf and both Deefa and Holly are both crashed out. They have spent a large part of the weekend playing tag with the nephews!!!!
There was some good news on the Foot and Mouth front, the 20day standstill was brought down to 6 days as from Wednesday, which makes moving sheep around a lot easier. But the
Blue Tongue zone has been extended, thankfully we are still outside the zone, but only just!!!! Hopefully the frosts we have had over the last few days will kill off the gnats that carry the infection.
Talking of frosts, we are now lighting the wood burning stoves on an evening, so some part of the weekend is spent cutting and splitting wood. We've nearly cut all of the wood stacked in the barn. But not to worry our neighbour, Colin, has a few more trailer loads waiting for us!!!!
That's all for this week

Sunday 14 October 2007

Rare Breeds Sale

On Friday we took 13 of our ewe lambs to the Rare Breeds Sale at York. We wished we hadn't. To start with Denise spent most of Friday in bed with a nasty cold and had to drag herself out of bed to do the movement and transport licences.
Thankfully the ewes went into the trailer no problem and the journey to York was reasonably good until we got onto York's inner ring road. We then proceeded to sit in traffic for 20 minutes without moving!!!! We finally arrived at the auction mart an hour late, but thankfully we were able to unload the ewes and settle them in for the night. Worryingly there were a lot of empty pens.
Saturday fared not much better, the prices were worryingly low and thanks to our black and white yuglet who reached the heady price of £17 gns, the best price for an unregistered Shetland ewe, our cheque from the auction mart should not been too bad, but at least half of what we would have got last year. Worryingly it's the same story from all the other Rare Breed Sales that were held this weekend. We can only hope that things improve next year.
The only ewes left on our smallholding are the one's we will be breeding from, all 27 of them!!! So come April/May next year we could have between 27 - 54 lambs!!!!! So next year we will have to make some serious decisions on which of our ewes we keep as we will be concentrating on the Wiltshire Horns, ideally we would like to have 12 - 18 Wiltshire Horn ewes and 6 - 12 Shetlands and Corridale ewes. Mutton will defiantly be on the menu.
Next weekend the nephews, aka The Hobbit's, arrive for a couple of days and we should be able to go and pick up our remaining Wiltshire Horn ewe lamb from Rosedale.
Hopefully more cheerfully news next week


Sunday 7 October 2007

Good Bye to Elli, Bella and Eloise

On Saturday we delivered, Elli, Bella and Eloise to their new owners, Carol and Duncan. The girls went into the trailer with no problems and when we arrived at Carol & Duncan's smallholding some 3 hours later, they were sat in the back of the trailer "totally chilled". Once the back door of the trailer was opened, they came straight out and proceeded to run around their new home, eat the grass and hay and have a general look round. When Tim closed the back of the trailer they were non too bothered and when we left, they were avidly watching the chickens fighting in the next paddock. An e-mail today from Carol says they have settled in well. Good to know.
It's also been a busy week. Scooby, the fencer arrived on Tuesday, to re-fence one of the paddocks that boarders the common land and also to create a new "sheep walk" or "race" at the top of another paddock by reclaiming 10ft of land that was overgrown by a hedge. It now means that we have 2 ways of moving the sheep to the barn, so hopefully during the winter neither race will become poached, as it did last year.
But in order that Scooby could do the fencing we had to move the "fat lambs" and the Rams. Tim put some hurdles up to split one of the paddocks in half so that the boys could share, as the fat lambs are on rather more feed than the rams at the moment. The only trouble was, Charlie (Wiltshire Horn Ram) was now next to the ewes, and he proceeded to batter "7 bells of whats it" out of a 8 inch strainer post. Drastic action was call for, so we moved the ewes into the same field as the ewe lambs that are due to go to the Rare Breeds Sale. That stopped him, but that evening we discovered that as we are in a Low Risk area for Foot and Mouth and Blue Tongue, the Rare Breeds Sale at York has been rescheduled for the 12th and 13th October, so we are going to have to split all the sheep up again.
So guess what we did this morning? We spent the morning moving sheep. The fat lambs have been moved into the paddock once occupied by the ewes, the ewes moved into the newly fenced paddock next to the common land, the lambs going to the sale are in a paddock next to the barn, which has the trailer in it ready to load them into on Friday. We also took the opportunity to give the Wiltshire Horn Ewes their finally booster of Heptovax and to put the Whiltshire Horn wether with the other fat lambs, Davina and Demelza, the 2 Masham X Sheltland ewe lambs have been put with the Wilthsire Horn lambs along with Lucy and Lotty who are now too old to breed from and Winky, who I'm afraid is meat for the freezer, as mutton, in the next month or so, she has not produced any lambs for us over the last 2 years.
We also had a fire to get rid of all of the hedge prunings from Scooby when he did the fencing as well as the lot from the hedge laying a couple of weeks ago. All that is left is a pile of ash. It was a good fire despite the sea fret and rain.
Next week will be another busy week, sorting out the relevant movement licences for the sale on Friday/Saturday, taking them to the sale and hoping we get a decent price for them. Arranging the collection of our missing Wiltshire Horen Ewe, the delivery of a Corridale Ram and the arrival of the nephews!!!! I'm sure the kids have more school holidays now than when we were at school, and talk to a farming magazine who want to do a feature on us!!!!
Results of the sale and the outcome on the magazine article next week